- Faith & Family
Retirement isn’t something that sneaks up on you, so says Priscilla Thompson, who celebrates her 61st birthday on Oct. 29th and cleaned out her desk last Friday after serving 10 1/2 years as the city clerk for the City of Miami.
Thompson was appointed to the job after nearly 22 years of service to the City. And by her own admission, while being a City employee wasn’t her immediate goal after graduating from Barry College in 1978 [now Barry University], she’s “grateful that people saw skills in me that allowed me to get in the door and move up the ladder.”
“In those days, Blacks here in Miami were looking for companies from which you could eventually retire — companies like PanAm or Bell South,” said Thompson, who completed her high school studies at Miami Central. “What mattered for me was being able to pay my mortgage and take care of other basic necessities. I was a divorced woman with a son and I had to make sure I took care of us both.”
Diligence pays off
Thompson remembers filling out a lot of applications. When she got a favorable response, she began her career as a public school teacher — a position she held from 1978 to 1992. Prior to being appointed as city clerk in 2002, Thompson served in the following capacities: administrative
assistant to the executive director of the Civil Service Board; senior staff analyst in charge of budget for the Fire Rescue Department; and executive director of the Civil Service Board.
She notes that she has had wonderful opportunities but laments the fact that many Blacks in Miami have not been as fortunate.
“Are we [Blacks] disenfranchised when it comes to political representation and economic opportunities here in Miami?” she asks. “Of course! Most of our young people, including my son and several of my nephews, are graduating from college and have no desires to come back home. There’s not a lot here for them, they say. Look at the political structures in each municipality in Miami-Dade County. Look at the employment figures or better yet — the unemployment figures. I no longer represent the City. Now I am a community member, a Delta and a member of The Church of the Incarnation. In each of those roles I would say the same thing: there is no reason why we should not be doing a better job of preparing our children for the future and making sure there are plenty of opportunities awaiting them.
‘Old school with a modern bent’
Thompson says she is just as busy now as when she was working and has no plans to sit down or slow up.
“We are all in this thing together and I realize that I go as my brother and sister go,” she said. “Just because one person makes a six-figure salary doesn’t mean everything is all good. It’s about making sure the community of all races is healthy. When I was small, I thought my mother and grandmother were the meanest two women on earth. They put the fear of God in me and raised me the old school way. I remember them saying if I landed in jail there would be no care packages coming. Because of them I can go anywhere in the world and know I will survive. That was wisdom.”
By D. Kevin McNeir